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WSOC Downs Duke, Advances to NCAA College Cup for First Time in Program History

Nikki Izzo-Brown takes the Mountaineers to the final four of the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship for the first time in program history after defeating the Blue Devils 1-0 in Morgantown.

Kadeisha Buchanan celebrates a WVU win in the 2016 NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship.
Geoff Coyle

On Saturday, November 26, something historic happened in Morgantown, West Virginia. For the first time in program history, the WVU women’s soccer team advanced to the NCAA Women’s College Cup—the “Final Four” of the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship. The No. 1-seeded Mountaineers defeated the No. 3 seed Duke Blue Devils 1-0 in the Elite Eight matchup at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.

The Mountaineers (22-1-2) were lifted by a 16th-minute goal from Alli Magelletta. Michaela Abam sent a corner kick to the back post that bounced to Magaletta, but her back was to goal. Inventively, she flicked it over her shoulder, past Duke goalkeeper EJ Proctor.

That goal was all the Mountaineers needed, but there were other chances for WVU. Heather Kaleiohi and Grace Cutler had decent chances to add to the lead in the first half but Proctor denied both shots.

Returning to the WVU team was Rylee Foster, who was playing in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup for Canada since the Big 12 tournament started. Her reappearance greatly helped WVU, as Duke applied constant pressure to the WVU defense in the second half.

The Blue Devils fired 11 shots at the WVU goal in the second half alone, outshooting the Mountaineers 17-12 on the day. Foster ended the match with 5 saves in total, but the most important came in the 58th minute. Duke midfielder Toni Payne fired a shot high to Foster’s near post, but the freshman stretched the push the ball over the crossbar.

The clean sheet was WVU’s 17th on the season and third of the postseason. For perspective, the Mountaineers have played 68 percent of their games without conceding a goal.

WVU has advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight twice before, in 2007 and 2015, but this was the first win in this round.

Now, the Mountaineers will travel to San Jose, California, for a national semifinal match against the vaunted North Carolina Tar Heels. UNC has more NCAA championships, 21, than any other program. The No. 2-seeded Tar Heels navigated past Liberty, Kansas, Clemson and South Carolina to make the College Cup.

Joining the Mountaineers and Tar Heels at the 2016 Women’s College Cup are No. 2 seeds USC and Georgetown. WVU is the only No. 1 seed to advance to the final four.

The 2016 Women’s College Cup will be played at the newest soccer-specific stadium in the United States, Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California. This site was chosen after the NCAA removed all championships from the state of North Carolina; the original site was WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary.

Home to the MLS-side San Jose Earthquakes, Avaya Stadium was opened in January 2015 with a capacity of 18,000 seats. The stadium is home to North America’s largest outdoor bar, sizing 3,650 square feet and 194 beer taps.

WVU will take on UNC on Friday, December 2, at 5 p.m., and will be aired on ESPNU. The championship match will be on Sunday, December 4, at 6 p.m., also on ESPNU.